Peacock Blue

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Pub Date: 08/25/2015

Pages: 512

Publisher: Talonbooks

Imprint: Talonbooks

ISBN 13: 9780889229143

ISBN 10: 0889229147

Price: $29.95 / $38.99 CAN

Category: POETRY / Canadian

Peacock Blue

By Phyllis Webb, John F. Hulcoop

Price: $29.95

About the Book

When Phyllis Webb published Wilson’s Bowl in 1980, Northrop Frye hailed it as “a landmark in Canadian literature”: landmark, an event that marks a turning point in something (in this case, Canadian literature); and an instantly recognized feature of a landscape (in this case, the landscape of Canadian poetry). Wilson’s Bowl was Webb’s fifth volume of poetry. Three more followed and then she fell silent, turning from literature to abstract painting.

Peacock Blue compiles in a single volume all of Webb’s published, unpublished, and uncollected works from a writing career that spanned fifty years. It offers readers the opportunity to relish the arc of Webb’s entire poetic oeuvre, from the modernist lyricism of her early works, to the groundbreaking volume, Naked Poems (1965), in which Webb created for herself a new minimalist language; from Wilson’s Bowl to what Douglas Barbour calls “Webb’s loving and subversive engagement with the ghazal” in Water and Light (1984); and finally to the postmodernist prose poems of Hanging Fire (1990).

The concluding section of Peacock Blue contains almost fifty poems, some of which have never been published before. It also includes brilliant but forgotten poems and poetic surprises. Brenda Carr has suggested that one of Webb’s later essays, “Message Machine” (1990), “initiates a re-reading of her poetics and practice … Against her anxiety that she is a passive ‘message machine’ for masculinist culture.” However, as Carr points out, “Webb posits another possibility – ‘cross-dressing.’ She theorizes her mimicry of the male persona as analogous to a ‘masquerade’ or ‘street theatre’ and in so doing reconstructs even her earlier poems as a performative space in which agency is possible.” The truth of Carr’s insight becomes increasingly apparent to anyone who undertakes to read through Webb’s entire poetic output, gathered together, at last, in Peacock Blue.

About the Book

The complete oeuvre of one of Canada's most revered poets, collected for the first time and available now in paperback.

Author

Phyllis Webb
Phyllis Webb worked for many years as a writer and broadcaster for the CBC, where she created the radio program “Ideas” in 1965 and was its executive producer from 1967 to 1969.

Her 1980 work Wilson’s Bowl was hailed by Northrop Frye as “a landmark in Canadian poetry.”

As Stephen Scobie once wrote, the work of Phyllis Webb “has always been distinguished by the profundity of her insights, the depth of her emotional feeling, the delicacy and accuracy of her rhythms, the beauty and mysterious resonance of her images—and by her luminous intelligence.”

Phyllis Webb received the BC Gas Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, the Order of Canada in 1992 and the 1982 Governor General’s Award for Selected Poems: The Vision Tree.